“Watson and the Shark”


“Watson and the Shark,” John Singleton Copley (1778)

The shark looks fake.
I’m not alone in thinking this.
The eyes aren’t “doll’s eyes.”
And strange lips around the teeth
turn the shark’s nose
into a submarine hull
100 years too soon.
The young victim–translucent
like a waterlogged plastic bag–
is too static to keep the attention.
The monster is so absurd
I would laugh at it in a curiosity shop
and yet my eyes always
ignore the victim
ignore the frantic crew
and focus in on the gray
surfacing in the waves
and consuming
a quarter of the painting.

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